Below is a recap of what Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell had to say on Day 1 of his team's mandatory minicamp. (Quotes provided by the Lions.)
Opening statement: "Our first day of mini-camp, obviously, and we've got an attentive group. I think the walk-through today was sharp. Practice today wasn't flawless, but the pace was good. Looks like we've been working at it for a bit, so certainly have been pleased with that aspect of it. Young guys are coming along."
On how much DT Haloti Ngata stayed in contact with the team despite missing most of OTAs: "Nothing caught us by surprise. We knew exactly where he was. We knew exactly what was happening with him. Obviously, during this time period he is back at work. Some guys, you know that you've had a history with, you know them a little bit better than others. One of the things - He'll work, he'll get himself to where he's supposed to be physically and he knows a little bit about the system. He's been in it before."
On DE Corey Wootton and Jason Jones' absences from practice: "No, I can't clarify. They're just not here today. Corey, you know, his wife had a baby, so he's not here for that reason. The other guys have some other issues that they're dealing with."
On if the absences were excused: "Yes."
On T Cornelius Lucas not practicing today: "He's got a bit of a nick, but nothing that's - Just keep him out a couple days. He won't practice at all the rest of the week."
On what Lucas loses by missing practice this week: "He hasn't missed anything up to this point, so he's done pretty well. You know, we'd like to have him every day we possibly can get him, so there's a couple things. But we're not putting in anything new."
On the players saying they feel farther along this year compared to last year: "I hope so. We must see a difference, you know? We have to be a better team. I think it's kind of a natural progression, the second year in the system, having a good feel for it, understanding how we operate, how we work. A lot of it during this time of the year last year was a little foreign to them, but I think they have a better feel for it. Obviously, schematically they're doing a better job of it. They've put together a process of learning, so right now rather than having 40-some-odd guys learning the offense, now we have rookies. Not only that, we have double the teachers because the older guys are helping instruct as well. So, I think you should see some improvement."
On RB Ameer Abdullah's development in the offense: "He's a hard worker. He studies extremely well, he's diligent in his process, he's disciplined and he has talent on top of that. You can see he's quick and, obviously, he's able to catch the ball for us. So, his progression has been good. He's coming along. He's not going through practice without any mistakes, but he is making very few."
On having a running back that can gain yards on his own: "One of the things that I think is important in this league one way or another, one guy's got to be yours. When you look at the numbers count, there's always going to be a defensive guy that's free. The quarterback's handing the ball to the back, quarterback's not blocking, there's somebody that's going to be loose. You have to be able to have a back that one way or another he's got to be able to take care of that guy. Now, some guys use power, some guys use speed to run away from them, some guys use a little bit of finesse. I think his forte is he's pretty quick."
On how much interaction he has had with Lions Owner and Chairman of the Board Martha Firestone Ford: "She comes to practice often, as you can see. We talk periodically. One of the things you'll find out very, very quickly is that she knows football. She reads it, she studies, she knows what's going on, knows the team. So, most often it's questions about maybe a player that we've discussed, but she does a great job. She's on top of everything."
On the addition of QB Garrett Gilbert: "He's a guy that certainly has played a couple preseason games, has size and ability. So, we're anxious to get a good feel for him. He has good pedigree and we'll see how it works."
On holding certain players out throughout the offseason: "We don't take that into account at all. What we look at is what's pertinent. What's going to give us an opportunity to have him back full-speed when it comes to the fall. So, we don't necessarily throw a young guy out there if he has an injury, has the same injury that an older guy has. We wouldn't do that. We would look at him strictly case by case."
On T Michael Williams' development: "He has really come along I think in terms of making the adjustment from a guy that was kind of on the edge to a guy that's in the thick of it all. His size I think is something that's unnatural for the position in which he played for a number of years. I believe he was trying to control his weight because he was a 300-pound tight end. You don't see very many 300-pound tight ends in this league. So, this is natural for him I think. He's coming along and making good progress. It's not an easy position to learn. It's a very, very tough adjustment, but he's taken it on and doing quite well with it."
On RB Desmond Martin: "He's performed well. He's working at it. The great thing about it is that guys like that bring a lot of interest on with it from those within the community like Joique (Bell) and several others that have been here with us, George (Winn), I think it's good for all of us. I think it's good for the community, it's good for the players, it's good for our team if he makes it. That's key."
On TE Eric Ebron's consistent development this offseason: "Yeah, today was a good day for him. Just like I tell him, he's got to be able to stack them on top of one another. That's the mark of a quality player. He has certainly that capability and he's working hard at it. Had a good day today and I told him, ‘Let's see if we can have another good one tomorrow.' That's the key."